Harry Smith, CBS' substitute anchor from its Early Show introduced his morning in-house physician Emily Senay to file an Eye on Medicine feature into 550,000-or-so babies who are born prematurely nationwide each year. The premature birth rate is 30% higher than it was 25 years ago; premature infants represent one eighth of all births. The Surgeon General convened a panel to investigate the problem. Senay told us that there is no known explanation for 40% of premature births. Known causes include an increased use of IVF, producing more twins and triplets; higher rates of obesity and diabetes among women who get pregnant; more early births by elective cesarean section--and a "high and unexplained prematurity rate among African-Americans."
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